Electrification in the 21st Century

 

 

I may have shared this reference with you before. (I’m not sure how much of a reference it is since I can’t remember who wrote it). If you do remember it, you’ll agree with me that this is a much better place to use it. So please forget its previous location.

In the early 1920’s, Soviet Russia realized that in order to truly modernize the country, it would need electricity in more than the major cities. So they decided it was time to electrify the villages. Note to non-Russian Studies/History majors: Soviet Russia is what they called it before the leaders decided that “Soviet Union” was a much better name for them and the countries the Imperialists had overrun and they decided to keep.

Anyway, the officials were very proud of this program and would send representatives out to remind the people how much better off they were now than they had been under the Tsars. In one village, they approached an elderly lady and asked her how she liked the new lights. She was not happy. Before she had lights, she thought her home was clean. Now she could see into the corners and realized what a mess she had been living in and how much work she had to do the keep it clean.

So at best, electricity is a mixed blessing. I am writing this on Saturday morning as I sit here without any power. They left a message on the answering machine that it would be out from 10a – noon. I guess they chose a time that would be maximally inconvenient for all of us because GM has a facility on the power grid and they have more money than we do and are pretty much closed down on weekends.

You may recall that I’m not very technologically advanced. I’m sure it’s not an answering machine anymore. It’s on the land line. It’s certainly not advanced enough to be voice mail. It is a huge advancement over the ones we used to have with tape that ate half of the messages. Advanced in the sense of the 1990’s.

Luckily I got downstairs to hear the message at 9:57 because they did turn off the power at 10a sharp. And once the electricity was gone, so was the machine.

Of course, I can type this because my laptop has battery back-up. More productively, I could be spending my time reading or cleaning. Or getting the flower beds ready for winter. Or watching the clouds.

On the other hand, I can’t make the chocolate chips cookies that were on the agenda. Our router is electric, so I can’t access the Internet. I can’t email people. And I can’t call them because the names are on an email I can’t get to right now.

We’re on a well with an electric pump. That means no water in the house. Including the toilet. Probably the only time that I look back at the outhouse at my grandparents’ cottage with fondness is when we have no power.

The cell phones work. Until they need to be recharged. Same with the laptop, tablets, e-readers, and all the other toys. Obviously, the TV is not an option. We have an electric garage door opener. I have had no luck getting in the side door of the garage since we moved in years ago. Even if I could get in, I couldn’t get the car out.

We rarely lose our power here. It’s a good thing too. With the population density of our neighborhood, the power company usually slots our restoration somewhere between parking structures and cemeteries.

We lost our power last Saturday too. That one was unplanned. A major storm swept through the area on Thursday, and thousands of people were still waiting for their power. We were fine after the storm. Ours had no apparent cause. Except my husband had finally bought a new HDTV for football season.

It was in the evening, so it was getting dark. We used a bunch of candles. It was actually very nice and peaceful. As soon as the power came back the TV was on, my husband switching between multiple games. None of which were going the way he wanted.

It made me wonder – can the power be routed so the well works but the TV doesn’t?

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